LEWISTON – The Portland Pirates opened the season in their new home away from home Wednesday night with a spirited effort against the Manchester Monarchs at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
The Monarchs eked out a 3-2 win by taking the shootout over the Pirates, who will play all 38 of their home games this season at the 55-year-old arena instead of the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“Obviously we’d like to get a win to start the season off, but it was our first game and we know we’re not going to be perfect coming in,” said the team captain, Jordan Szwarz. “Bottom line, we worked hard for 60 minutes and we didn’t get the result we wanted, but we worked hard.”
Coach Ray Edwards was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I was impressed with our guys,” he said. “They worked hard. Our young defense made a few mistakes back there but we hung in there. Overall I was very pleased. There’s obviously a lot to work on.”
The official attendance was given as 2,102, more than 1,600 under capacity.
“The atmosphere was fine.” Edwards said. “I’d like to see more people in the building but it was fine.”
Last season the Pirates won five of the six games they played in Lewiston.
“We played here six times last year and we know what to expect coming here,” Szwarz said. “Obviously it’s an older building, but as a player you kind of like that atmosphere. As a player it’s kind of unique to come play in a building like this.”
The Pirates planned to play 13 home games at the Colisee this season while the $34 million renovation of the Civic Center was completed.
On Sept. 26, the managing owner, Brian Petrovek, announced that the Pirates would play their entire home schedule in Lewiston this season because of a stalemate in lease negotiations with the Portland facility’s trustees.
Tobias Rieder, a rookie forward from Germany who spent the last three seasons playing junior hockey in Canada, scored both of the Pirates’ goals.
“He’s just a real smart player and tenacious around the net,” Edwards said. “He’s got the ability to score. He also does all those little details like blocking shots and playing defense in his own end.”
The Monarchs took a 2-1 lead in the second period when Derek Forbort and Linden Vey scored following Portland turnovers.
Rieder staked the Pirates to the early lead with his first-period goal.
With seven minutes left, Rieder jammed another power-play goal inside the left post to tie it.
“The issue for me was the momentum,” Edwards said. “There were times we were stuck in our zone and the momentum was going the other way, but that’s all a part of growing. We came out hard (at the start) and they sort of tilted the ice in the second. We got the momentum back in the third.”
Tyler Toffoli and Brandon Kozun scored for the Monarchs in the second and third rounds of the shootout.
Szwarz scored for the Pirates in the fourth round as goalie Martin Jones stopped four of the five shooters.
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